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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 5 at sea

Monday, Oct 16, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

The ship’s clock is set forward one hour again last night. I’m awake at 5AM and see Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the ocean, so take some photos before going back to bed to sleep in until just after 8AM. I go to the main dining room for my cappuccino and breakfast. I’m seated at a table with a couple from Nanaimo, a woman from Ohio, and a man from the Silicon Valley.

This is our last day aboard the ship before we disembark in Vancouver tomorrow morning. Some lucky passengers are staying on the ship as it transitions to the Caribbean ending in Fort Lauderdale. I have heard some passengers want to extend their cruise, but the ship is fully-booked out of Vancouver. There are many more people aboard in wheelchairs than on my previous voyages with Holland America. I’m thinking this might be because there was only one tender port on this cruise (Lahaina), so these people could disembark at all the other ports-of-call.

While we are having lunch in the main dining room, Captain Scott comes on the PA system to report that we are a bit ahead of schedule, so we will be in Juan de Fuca Strait by 6PM this evening, will pick up the pilot off Victoria at 11PM, and will dock in Vancouver by 5AM tomorrow morning.

Captain George Vancouver

Captain George Vancouver

Lawrence Tartaglino’s Talk: Vancouver: The Man, Island and the City –  George Vancouver was one of Britain’s greatest navigators and cartographers; a man who influenced the world, yet died in almost total obscurity. This is the story of his life and legacy. I learned that George Vancouver settled the details of the Nootka Convention of 1790  between Spain and England with Bodega y Quadra. He circumnavigated the world from England to Africa, Australia, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest of North America, then around Cape Horn and back the England – some 65,000 miles!

I go over to my friends’s cabin for a sip of wine at 4PM…the last of the white riesling we had last night at the Tamarind. I go for a two circuit 1km walk on the Upper Promenade deck. It is raining and foggy as the ship enters Juan de Fuca Strait to rendezvous with the pilot just off Victoria’s shoreline. I spot the two little Pomeranian dogs that are aboard as part of the magician and illusionist show. We are into some serious rollers coming from a northerly direction…I expect we are now over the continental shelf, and out of deep water.

The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the Eurodam's main dining room

The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the Eurodam’s main dining room

My friends and i change our minds about dining in the Lido and instead decide to go to the main dining room for dinner this evening. The Executive Chefs are featured on the menu, so there are some interesting menu choices! We all select the lamb shank, which is slow-roasted with the bone-in just like I get from my local Greek restaurants. I have potato soup with shrimp to start, and finish with chocolate ginger mouse cake. It is all superb! The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the dining room happens as well, so we all give them a well-deserved round of applause.

When I return to my cabin, I pack everything except what I will need for the morning. I am rolling my own bag off the ship, so I don’t have to put my bag out this evening…a much better option since I can finish packing last minute items tomorrow morning. I have breakfast ordered to be delivered to my room tomorrow morning, so I will stay out of the passageways until it’s time for me to leave the ship at 8:30AM.

I go up to the Crow’s Nest on the north side of the ship and catch an LTE connection from my Canadian cellular carrier from there. Once I catch up on a few online things, I shut down and return to my cabin. It faces south, so I’m picking up AT&T, so I make sure I shut off data roaming before I go to bed at 10PM.

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 4 at sea

Sunday, Oct 15, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I wake up at 4AM this morning, but manage to get back to sleep until 6:30AM. Setting the ship’s clocks forward almost daily is starting to catch up with me. I meet my friend in the Explorations Cafe for cappuccino and a snack at 7:30AM. I go to the Lido for some scrambled eggs and toast before walking the circuit on Promenade Deck a couple of times for a 1km distance. It is cool outside, so I zip up my fleece jacket, although the seas are much calmer and the wind isn’t a factor today. When I return to my cabin, I catch my cabin stewards and give them an envelope with some US$ for all their cheerful work keeping my cabin clean.

Ginny Stibolt’s final talk: Public Gardens – Traditional public gardens are well-trimmed and orderly, but newer public gardens have emphasized native plants. When I visit New York City, I want to see Highline Park – a natural park on a elevated rail; and when I visit Chicago – Lurie Garden.

A Belgian ship’s officer hosts an Interest Corner session: Classic Sports Cars and Photography. He shows his selection of the top ten classic sports cars for each of America and Europe, and then follows up with some of his photos from his recent helicopter tour of Kauai, including the spectacular Napili coast. (Slide show of my photos of the Napili Coast)

Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster

Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster

My friends and I go to the Tamarind restaurant this evening, on Gala Night. We all have Martinis in the beautiful but quiet Tamarind bar before dinner, and then dig into the menu to select some items we didn’t try the first time we were here. I select an Austrian Riesling wine, which goes well with the seafood that dominated the menu.

We have: spicy Thai Chicken and rice soup, Shrimp Tempura Indochine, Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster with sake-braised oyster and shiitake mushrooms, brown rice, Java mint and coconut rice pudding, Mango Cloud – a light egg white soufflé mango sorbet. It was all excellent! I think the Tamarind is perhaps the best restaurant aboard the ship, although there is a modest premium charge to dine here.

Shrimp Tempura Indochine

Shrimp Tempura Indochine

 

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 3 at sea

Saturday, Oct 14, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I’m feeling a bit down this morning, probably because the cruise is coming to an end in a few days Reviewing my bill, they are showing a Hotel Service Charge Promotion which means the gratuity that is normally charged every day is credited.

Captain Cook, 1770

Captain Cook, 1770

Lawrence Tartaglino’s talk this morning: Captain James Cook – Four men on a beach: how a great navigator and cartographer influenced the development of the Hawaiian Islands and the world beyond. What I learned:

  • Sailed from the Arctic to Antarctic
  • Mapped the Gulf of St. Lawrence – helped Britain win the 7 Year War with the USA
  • His Great Voyages
    • Transit of Venus in Tahiti
    • Around the world from England to Cape Horn, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Cape of Good Hope – 1,074 days, mappied Terra Australis; tested the Harrison Chronometer to accurately determine longitude for the first time. His Tahitian translator Omai is taken back to England, and eventually returned to Tahiti
    • Discovered the Northwest Passage, which was a secret mission
    • England to Cape of Good Hope, Tahiti, Hawaii, west coast of Canada, Cape Horn, and returned to England
      • Landed at Kealakekua Bay and is taken as the Hawaiians’ god Ono. Cook decides to kidnap the Hawaiian King, where he is clubbed to death. Both William Bligh and George Vancouver on board.

Captain Scott gives the always-popular talk Ask the Captain – Learn about what it’s like to captain Eurodam in this virtual bridge and engine room tour. He started his passenger ship career with the Cunard Princess, the same ship I cruised on in the 1980s from Vancouver to San Juan, Puerto Rico. He then commanded the Queen Elizabeth II before being recruited by Holland America Lines (HAL). He has been involved in the procurement of the new HAL ships at the Italian shipyard in Venice, but has also been master of the Eurodam for the last three years.

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 2 at sea

Friday, Oct 13, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

It is my 65th birthday today. I go up to the Explorations Cafe for my usual morning cappuccino and pastries. Thanks to having an Internet connection while at sea, I read over 50 birthday wishes waiting for me on Facebook this morning – a great start to the day! After I finish my cappuccino, I go to the Lido and have an custom-made omelet for breakfast. A couple from Salem, Oregon sit down at my table, so we talk about the recent eclipse.

The ship continues to pitch around as it battles against strong winds from the weather trough in the North Pacific. We also experience rain squalls despite there being some blue sky visible as well. The Upper Promenade Deck is closed due to 50 mph winds!

Ginny Stibolt’s Talk this morning: Between the Land and the Sea – The Hawaiian Islands have about 750 miles of coastline. We’ll take a look at how reefs, wetlands, and mangroves protect shorelines and provide important habitat for birds, fish crustaceans, and more.

We hear from a new Guest Speaker this morning: Lawrence Tartaglino. His talk is titled The Four Mutinies of William Bligh – A look at each of the four mutinies in which Captain Bligh was involved, and a review of the issues, people and circumstances surrounding each incident. I learned: he Joined the Royal Navy at 7 years old, sailed with Captain Cook in 1776 (Cook’s final voyage), his wife was a woman of influence that helped his career in the British Navy, and his wife referred to Fletcher Christian as “That charming young man”!

John and Wendy enjoy some bubbly at the Mariner Lunch

John and Wendy enjoy some bubbly at the Mariner Lunch

My friends and I attend the Mariner Lunch, which happens on each Holland America voyage where there are sea days. Our Cruise Director Nick introduces  Marco van Bellegheim, Hotel Director and Captain John Scott. Captain Scott is a very outgoing man, and regales us all before lunch. I have a tasty vegetarian lunch, including Eggplant red curry along with the traditional sparkling wine served at these functions to honour loyal cruisers.

This evening we celebrate my 65th birthday and both of my friends also have nearby birthdays at the Pinnacle Grill. As it turns out, the Executive Chef for Holland America is staging a special dinner this evening called Rudi’s Sel de Mer – a celebration of seafood! We enjoyed ourselves immensely – the food was wonderful.

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 1 at sea

Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 – Kaua’i, HI to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Coffee fruit

Coffee fruit

The ship’s clocks are set forward an hour last night, so I’m up a bit early this morning. I go up to the Explorations Cafe for my cappuccino and pastries, since I can’t wait for the main dining room to open up at 8AM, and the Lido’s coffee is dreadful. The ship is tossing around a fair bit as we head into a weather trough in the North Pacific on our way back to Vancouver. There are also lots of clouds, a fair bit of rain, and thunder and lightning in the afternoon, despite it being 25ºC outside.

Ginny Stibolt’s Talk this afternoon: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee – what I learnt:

  • Hawaii is the only coffee producer in the United States
  • There were 2,800 acres of coffee cultivated in 1980; 10,000 acres today
  • The 800 Kona coffee farms average less than 5 acres each
  • Typica Arabica is grown in Hawaii
  • Caffeine is part of: coffee, black tea, cacao, yopan & mate (made from holly)
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Vancouver to Hilo – day 5 at sea

Oct 6, 2017 – Fifth day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

There is a Deck Sale this morning beside the Lido Pool, which is always a good time to buy Holland America Line apparel at discounted prices, but I don’t find any t-shirts or golf shirts I like. The ship’s photographers are also there selling photo albums and cameras – a new sales angle for them!

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: How Modern Farming Changed a Civilization –  Beginning in the 1800s, farming crops such as sugar, pineapple, and others changed Hawaii in many ways. What I learned:

  • The last sugar mill  in Hawai’i closed in 2016
  • Pineapples don’t ripen after being picked
  • Not much pineapple is commercially grown in Hawai’i now – new crops have taken over the lead, including Roundup-ready crops, GMOs, seeds, papaya, Macadamia Nuts, Cacao (source of chocolate), coffee, floral crops – native and exotic.

I go for a swim in the Ocean View pool in the stern of the vessel after lunch today. It is the first day which is warm enough outside for swimming. The water is cool, but I enjoy the exercise!

My friends have been raving about the quartet playing chamber music at the Lincoln Center Stage venue aboard ship, so I join them this evening. The Masterworks by Brahms is an absolutely stunning performance! People are raving about this group, and the venue is full for virtually every performance.

I have been setting my clocks back an hour most evenings before I go to bed since we are sailing westward. As of 2AM we will now be on Hawaii Local Time, so there will be no more time changes until we start sailing back to Vancouver.

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Vancouver to Hilo – days 3 & 4 at sea

Oct 4, 2017 – Third day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: Hawaii: A Timeline of Paradise – The origins of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, the nature of their plants and animals, and how the natural aspects of this paradise have changed over time. I learn that native species in Hawai’i are rare, and even rarer now that many invasive species of plants and animals have been brought in by settlers.

Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset

Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset

My friends and I go up to the Lido for lunch, but can’t find a table, so we go down to the dining room and have a very nice lunch with a couple from Langley, BC, and a woman from south Florida.

Oct 5, 2017 – Fourth day at sea

As is my habit while aboard ship, I go up to the Explorations Cafe for Continental Breakfast: the essential cappuccino, a blueberry cake and some muesli. I find a chair in the adjacent Crow’s Nest Lounge with a forward-facing view and chat with a woman from Parksville and a man from Seattle. The man from Seattle is folding US Dollar bills into origami figures he invents. One is a dress shirt and a tie – very clever!

I meet my friend in the Explorations Cafe for coffee at 10:30AM, and then sit outside on the Upper Promenade Deck 3 to listen to the first four chapters of my Margaret Atwood Audible book The Handmaid’s Tale. I go down to the main dining room for lunch, and sit at a table with the woman from Richmond and her mother from Sidney again – even on a ship this big, you can bump into people more than once! I have a lovely spinach and mushroom salad with grilled salmon on top and some frozen yogurt for dessert.

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this afternoon: Ancient Farming: Roots of a Civilization – she follows up yesterday’s talk by describing how Polynesian wayfarers brought seeds, cuttings, and root stock of plants they’d need in unknown lands (Hawai’i).

This evening, my friends and I have dinner at Tamarind, a Pan-Asian restaurant featuring the cuisine of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. We are all very impressed with the food and service. Our selections:

  • Jewels of the Sea – shrimp-filled wontons with sliced baby bok chop, lemon grass-sesame broth
  • Crisp Fried Soft Shell Crab with Thai dipping sauce
  • Hoisin-Lime Glazed Sea Bass – pan-seared, wok-cooked Asian greens
  • Penang Red Curry Coconut Chicken – spiced chicken, snow peas, eggplant, zucchini, pimientos, opal bail, lemon grass, lime juice, red curry, coconut milk
  • Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly – soy-egg, pickled vegetables, sticky rice, bok choy with oyster sauce
  • Mango Cloud – light egg white soufflé mango sorbet
  • Thai Mini Doughnuts – chocolate, mango & ginger sauces
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Vancouver to Hilo – day 2 at sea

Oct 3, 2017 – Second day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

At Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: Rainforest: The Most Diverse Ecosystems in the World, I learn:

  • Photosynthesis and respiration are equal and opposite natural cycles
  • Only about 20% of oxygen produced is supplied freely to outside the rainforest, 80% is consumed internally to the rainforest
  • Forests only temporarily sequester carbon, unlike oceans where carbon is more-or-less permanently sequestered
  • In Borneo, 700 tree species are found in 25 acres
  • 80% of insect species are found in tropical forests
  • Old cellphones are being used in the Amazon to detect the sounds of chainsaws cutting trees, and transmitting reports back to authorities. They are powered from solar panels.
  • Costa Rica is restoring their rain forest by planting at least 15 native species of plants and trees

It is 19ºC at noon today, but when I was outside on Promenade Deck walking four circuits, I was wearing my fleece jacket zipped up because of the cool breeze. I go to the Explorations Cafe at noon for a cappuccino and have a chocolate chip cookie and a couple of little cocktail sandwiches for a lunchtime snack, since I’m skipping having a big lunch today. This afternoon the mv OOCL London container ship is very close to the Eurodam (see banner image above).

I go to see an hour-long video this afternoon produced by the BBC: Earth Inside Earth: A Privileged View. This is very interesting, highlighting wildlife photographers working in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert in Jordan, with Capuchin monkeys in SE Asia, and with breeding Adela Penguins in Antarctica.

 

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Vancouver to Hilo – first day at sea

Oct 2, 2017 – First day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I have breakfast in the main dining room this morning. I am seated at a large table with five other British Columbians from Sidney, Richmond, Nanoose Bay, and Vernon. Obviously this cruise appeals to Canadians, especially those of us from the west coast, since it departs and returns to Vancouver.

Speaker: Ginny Stibolt

Speaker: Ginny Stibolt

My friends and I are very pleased with presenter Ginny Stibolt, a botanist, naturalist and dedicated gardener. She gives wonderful talks about the natural world around us almost every day we are at sea on this cruise. This morning’s presentation is: Oceans: The Real “Lungs” of the World. – “We can thank the oceans’ plants for the oxygen in our atmosphere”.

This afternoon, there is a presentation “Make the Most of Your Visit to Hilo and Honolulu” by the onboard EXC Guide Eve. I’ve visited Hawai’i so many times, I could probably give this presentation, however I attend anyway so I can pick up any updated information about our ports-of-call.

Joe sipping some Prossecco in the main dining room on Gala Night

Joe sipping some Prossecco in the main dining room on Gala Night

It is Gala Night this evening aboard ship, which means most people are dressed in their best. My friends and I go to the main dining room at 5:30PM, and although there is a long line to get in, we are given a window table on the top level normally reserved for fixed seating guests. I order escargots, arugula salad, and beef tenderloin steak with prawns (see photo in the banner image above). We have a bottle of Proscecco sparkling wine, which goes nicely with pretty well everything we order, including Beef tenderloin steak with prawns (banner image above) and a vegetarian entree.

After dinner, we go to the main showroom to join the captain in a toast to a successful voyage, and then stay for the Off The Charts – Billboard Hits Rewind show, which is excellent…performed by the ship’s entertainers. The show is quite a big step up from the ship-board shows I’ve seen on other Holland America ships. I don’t know if HAL is upgrading all their shows, or this is unique to their larger ships like the Eurodam.

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Cruise: French Polynesia to San Diego

Cruising from Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia to San Diego, USA aboard ms Statendam

“Sea days” are a necessary part of most cruises, where the ship is at sea for a day or two (or longer sometimes) while traveling between ports-of-call. Some passengers pick cruises with the most sea days because they obviously enjoy the isolation and routine that inevitably occurs during these days. I have met passengers on previous voyages that don’t get off the ship, even when it is in port – they enjoy shipboard life so much! Others dread the sea days, and constantly complain they are bored and dwell on the next port-of-call. I am somewhere in the middle…I like sea days, but not too many in a row. This final leg of the voyage from Nuku Hiva to San Diego takes six days, which I know will test my patience after the first couple of days into it. I ensure I have projects I can do during these “sea days”, which keep the boredom at bay, and ensure I accomplish something during this down time.

Of course the ship’s entertainment staff are fully prepared to keep everyone occupied with dozens of activities each day the ship is at sea. The casino goes full out during these days, and I suspect they get customers they otherwise wouldn’t see, simply because passengers are looking for something to do. The staff running the shops aboard ship can also be counted on to put on product presentations, free draws, and serve champagne at their special sales events reserved for these days at sea when they are guaranteed a captive audience. Lots of passengers read books – sitting out on deck for hours at a time. Some passengers get into some serious drinking, especially during the afternoon Happy Hour, when the bars come alive. Others take workshops to learn about computers, digital cameras, food, dancing, playing musical instruments, wine appreciation, making jewelry, keeping fit, playing bridge, and dozens of other activities.


Ship's position - March 10, 2014

Ship’s position – March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014 – Monday – Day 1 Sea Day

I wake up about 4AM and look out the window to see Venus drilling through the clouds, and then go back to sleep. This is our first full sea day of six enroute to San Diego and the end of the cruise. I have a full day planned, with enrichment talks and other activities. I received my Mariner Society Brunch invitation for the 12th, which I plan to attend, mainly so I can see the captain. I have yet to spot him on this long voyage!

  • 11:30AM – Discover SkyDrive Connect to SkyDrive.com – Digital Workshop – “Explore different ways to access, manage, and share your files on SkyDrive.” I use SkyDrive (now called OneDrive) and learned a few tips by attending this tech workshop.
  • 3PM – Hubble”s Greatest Hits – Showroom at Sea – Jonathan Nally – “It’s the most famous telescope in the world … or more accurately, in space! Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has produced many of the most amazing images of the cosmos ever taken. Jonathan Nally takes you on a colorful journey through more than 20 years of Hubble’s most incredible discoveries and awe-inspiring images.” This presentation is mostly astronomical eye candy, but it is an enjoyable way to pass an hour.

I am the only person swimming in the Ocean View Pool just before noon. The water in the pool is sloshing around a great deal as the ship is buffeted by strong winds. By this afternoon, we are being hit with 35kt winds as we proceed on our NE course across the Equator. There are whitecaps out on the water as I negotiate the windy Promenade Deck for my usual walk I take each day.

It is formal night this evening, so I get into my dark jacket, pants and tie before going to the Rotterdam dining room for dinner. I have a seafood dinner, starting with cold Lobster with mayonnaise, then Manhattan clam chowder, and Alaska King Crab and drawn butter for an entrée. The lobster and crab were very good, but the chowder was not inspiring. I had a chocolate espresso soufflé with warm raspberry sauce for dessert, which was excellent!

Jonathan Nalley leads a stargazing session from the Sea View Pool stern deck again tonight, and points out the Southern Cross to the crowd of about 50 people. I enjoy looking at M42 the Orion Nebula and Jupiter and its moons.

March 11, 2014 – Tuesday – French Polynesia to San Diego – Day 2 Sea Day

Polywogs kneeling before King Neptune

Polywogs kneeling before King Neptune

I have breakfast this morning with the dialysis doctor and his wife. He has a few dialysis patients aboard, one of which became unstable and had to be taken ashore in Nuku Hiva and onward to the hospital in Papeete. There are some rain showers while we have breakfast and during the day, however the Sun comes out for the King Neptune Ceremony held this morning on the stern deck at the Ocean View Pool. Several pollywogs are duly initiated by the shellbacks. Despite having photos from similar ceremonies on two previous Holland America cruises, I take a few more photos, since this is always a fun event.

The wind is strong at 35kts from the NE, so with us steering a course of 028, we are taking the wind just off the bow. They close the decks, but passengers continue to sit on the loungers and walk the decks, putting up with some sea spray and being blown around a bit. The ship is maintaining a speed of 18 knots as we head north to San Diego.

March 12, 2014 – Wednesday – French Polynesia to San Diego – Day 3 Sea Day

I have breakfast this morning in the Rotterdam dining room, but keep it light since I have the Mariners Brunch to attend at 11AM. The Mariners Brunch is where virtually everyone aboard is recognized for our loyalty to Holland America with a gift of a Delft ceramic tile. The Captain and Hotel Manager are on hand to greet everyone, and the Cruise Director emcees the proceedings. We have a lunch menu to choose from, and we are out of there by noon.

I go to Jonathan Nalley’s presentation on Mars and the missions sent there. I spend a few minutes online this afternoon in order to finish what I was doing yesterday when the connection to the Internet broke. I had to ask for a credit, since I couldn’t log back on to log off properly yesterday. This morning the connection wasn’t solid, so that’s why I waited until this afternoon to complete my posting to facebook, and download some email.

2014 Marcus Terrell and the Serenades

Marcus Terrell and the Serenades

After dinner in the Rotterdam dining room this evening, I go to see the show Marcus Terrell & The Serenades, which is a Motown trio with some soul mixed in. I enjoyed their show a few nights ago, and this one is even better. They mix it up by adding in some pop/opera with “The Promise”, and pretty well nail it. They get a standing ovation and give the appreciative audience an encore. Their Facebook page.

March 13, 2014 – Thursday – French Polynesia to San Diego – Day 4 Sea Day

As expected, the last few days of this cruise are becoming a bit tedious. I don’t really participate in many of the activities that are listed in the newsletter each day. I attend about half the shows in the Showroom, which are generally well done, and sometimes exceptional. I attend all the enrichment lectures, and really appreciate the astronomy speaker Jonathan Nalley. I’m glad I have my MacBook Air notebook computer with me, since I spend about an hour each day working on my travel journal, and extracting material every few days to post on my JoeTourist blog.

Taking photographs is probably my main diversion on this trip. The subsequent task of filling in the metadata for each photo takes considerable time and effort, but at least it keeps me busy while we are at sea, and it makes the job of updating my main JoeTourist.ca website much easier after I return home. I purchase another 100 minutes of Internet time this morning for $55, to give me lots of online time until our arrival in San Diego. There is a bonus 20 minutes offered for this deal for today only. I decide this is better value than purchasing the ship’s DVD videos of the trip at $80 for the set of four. Last cruise I purchased the DVDs, and they just sit on the shelf at home after I watched them once.

9:30AM – To Pluto and Beyond – Jonathan Nally “details three space missions currently underway-one that’s heading for a landing on a comet. another that will investigate the giant planet Jupiter, and one that will give us our first close-up pictures of the dwarf planet Pluto and other icy worlds beyond. All three spacecraft have been zooming through space for years now, and excitement is mounting as they begin to close in on their destinations.” I enjoy this lecture very much, despite knowing a fair bit about all three missions previously.

Entrance to the Rotterdam dining room with Indonesian & Fillipino decorations

Entrance to the Rotterdam dining room with Indonesian & Fillipino decorations

There is a great deal of hacking and coughing on the ship right now. I’m hoping to not catch a cold before I board my flight home, otherwise flying will be a painful experience. I give my two Indonesian cabin stewards a tip this morning, since they have worked so well to keep my cabin neat and tidy. Dinner in the Rotterdam dining room this evening has a Filipino and Indonesian theme. The waiters are in costume, the room is decorated, and the menu has both ethnic foods featured, making things very festive.

After dinner, I decide to skip the show and do laundry one more time, since I want to wear clean blue jeans on my flight home. The washer only takes 25 cents before starting, so that saves me from the usual $2 charge – bonus!

March 14, 2014 – Friday – French Polynesia to San Diego – Day 5 Sea Day

I check on my flights home on the United Airlines website and find they are on schedule. I always check in at the counter when I arrive at the airport, since I have to check my big bag and get seat assignments. It is too complicated and time-consuming to do this online while aboard ship, although many passengers will do this, no doubt.

I attend two talks put on by ship’s officers today.

  • 10AM – Virtual Engine Room Tour with Chief Engineer Silbert Whyte, the Chief Engineer talks about the engines, power, and other infrastructure systems in the ship, gives the first presentation.
  • 2PM Virtual Bridge Tour with Statendam’s Navigational and Safety Officer who is also the First Officer talks about the bridge, navigation and other bridge functions. Both are informative, and there are lots of questions from the audience.

We have our last formal night this evening, and it is also the Black and White Ball later this evening, so the Rotterdam dining room is decorated once again. The tenor and the soprano from the ship’s troupe sing classic songs this evening in the Showroom, and an orchestra is assembled from the various musicians aboard the ship to back them up. It was well done, and I enjoyed it.

Ship's position - one day out of San Diego

Ship’s position – one day out of San Diego

March 15, 2014 – Saturday – French Polynesia to San Diego – Day 6 Sea Day

Today is a strange and melancholy day for me. I went to a couple of events this morning, but I’m restless and anxious to leave the ship to return home. The entertainment staff is doing their best to keep us all busy with lots of events scheduled, but I just don’t have the patience for it. I’m not even interested in working on my journal or photos today.

I try to watch a movie this afternoon, but I just can’t stand the slow pace of the story, so I walk out. I catch the end of the Hula & Ukulele rehearsal by the passengers who have been learning how to dance and play during the cruise. They did very well! I actually came to the Showroom to hear the Third Officer Mikko talk about Icebreakers in his native Finland, which I find closer to my interest. Obviously I’m a techie guy at heart!

There is a parade of serving staff  in the Rotterdam dining room this evening. It is truly amazing to see the hundreds of serving staff who make the passengers life aboard ship so wonderful. They get a well-deserved ovation, as they are recognized for all their dedication and hard work. Some may say this is simply a pitch for tips, however I can see the pride in the faces of the men and women as they parade through the room.

Parade of serving staff in the Rotterdam dining room

Parade of serving staff in the Rotterdam dining room